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Monday, January 16, 2012

Book Review: The Second Sonata by Nathan Patrick Hardt

This is a very different story that left me pondering.

by Nathan Patrick Hardt

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 552 KB
  • Print Length: 396 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FEFB9W
     Genre: Contemporary Fiction
     My Rating:  4.25 of 5.0

Product Description
Awake? Asleep?
Living, breathing, dreaming?
After crawling miraculously unscathed from a pulverizing car accident, Nicholas returns to his life to find that little is as it had been and even less is what it seems. With a newfound appreciation for life and an insatiable thirst to discover all it has to offer, he wastes no time beginning to mend damaged relationships and reconcile so much time squandered and forfeit.
At the behest of a charismatic but cryptic stranger, Nicholas takes every opportunity to seize upon his borrowed time, reuniting with loves long since lost. But even as his life is shaping to become everything it always could and should have been, Nicholas is increasingly certain that something is dreadfully amiss, uncovering mysteries lurking within every shadow and secrets behind each blessing.
Unsure of whether his journey of sudden self-awareness is being aided or daunted by this enigmatic chaperone, Nicholas must face the raw and painful truths creeping just beyond his senses, make decisions of dire and mortal consequence, and confront his most haunting of judgments before at last discovering the horrifying fate buried deep within the gathering darkness that has always been awaiting his return.
Painted within these pages is a simple reflecting pool of each of our lives and loves, our most joyous celebrations and mournful regrets, and a journey upon which we must all one day embark.

Nicholas is a bitter, resentful and defeated man who has allowed his life to spiral down into the bottle. He is a man ‘alone, desperate and drowning.’  Life has battered him down and finally his wife divorced him and moved away with their son, Ashton, his “blue and gold”, sky and sun.

The story begins one night as Nicholas is racing against closing time for one more drink. Instead of reaching the pub he slams into a tree. Thoughts of his son and a strange voice calling him “Jack” force him out of the wreckage to get away before the car explodes.  Suddenly things begin to change around him as he thinks he has gained a second chance to make something of his life.

Nicholas visits the pub a night or so later and is warmly welcomed by a friendly bartender and buddies whom he doesn’t remember but he is happy to be part of this group. Nicholas says goodbye to a lover as, even though they have good times when drinking, he knows they are not good for each other.  He realizes that he must ‘get his act together’ so he can begin a new relationship with his distant son.

Things are working out positively for Nicholas.  He has talked to his ex-wife and is excited about visiting with his son. A dog just like the one he had as a youngster has adopted him and he has renewed a friendship with his college sweetheart. Nicholas continues to have visits with a strange man/friend, Bradley, who seems almost like an angel. He also has strange dreams about destruction of his home and a rebirth. When Ashton comes to visit they plant a young tree but it just doesn’t seen to thrive in spite of all the care he gives it.

As a slow metamorphose takes place it is not altogether clear if this is real or a dream. The story is full of inner contemplation and ideas that provoke thought about alcoholism, creation, angels, purpose, free will, love, struggles and lives that are individual yet interconnected.

This did not read quickly although, or perhaps because, the writing is full of rich descriptions that had me making many notes. There is a fine mixture of “showing” and “telling” between the portrayal of Nicholas’ current doings and the narration of his past and his dreams and unconscious thoughts.

This is not a book for light reading or easy entertainment but when you want a change of pace to make you think a bit about our lives in this world this would be an interesting book to read. I think it was a suitable (ironically) book to start the new year with.

Two phrases I particularly liked and noted:
“Some people come into our lives, if only for fleeting moments, to make dramatic differences for the better.”
“...[T]he legacy left when you are gone is the only testimony to the life you led.”

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